PAR continues to work to get answers for Realtors® as we receive coronavirus business restriction updates, but we wanted to make you aware of information issued yesterday.
Discussions with the governor’s office continue, but have thus far not resulted in industry-wide waivers for real estate practice. In his Sunday address, Gov. Wolf did say companies could apply for a waiver if they believe their business was incorrectly classified as not being life-sustaining.
Many questions have been raised about whether settlement companies can proceed, and if so, under what circumstances. Some have interpreted the guidance from the governor, especially as it relates to credit intermediaries and insurance agencies, to mean they can continue to do business. This could result in many of you seeing different practices being used across the state. You should contact your title company to determine whether they will do business in the days ahead.
It should be noted that PAR and the Pennsylvania Land Title Association spoke with representatives for the governor on Sunday, advocating for a blanket waiver for real estate services in order to provide better clarity for the confused marketplace.
PAR’s legal hotline continues to receive practice related questions primarily around open houses and direct contact with clients and customers. At this time, to comply with the governor’s closure order issued to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Realtors® should stop offering in-person real estate services and should only offer services that can be done remotely without in-person, physical interaction. Brokers should consult with brokerage counsel on how to keep their business in compliance with the governor’s order, and with questions about whether specific services are or are not in compliance with the order.
The Pennsylvania State Police announced enforcement officers are prepared to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions beginning at 8 a.m. today. Private businesses, organizations and other noncompliant entities face possible criminal penalties. Both violations are summary offenses punishable by fines, jail time and additional administrative penalties under certain circumstances.
The Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick stated, “We believe most Pennsylvanians want to act responsibly and do their part to help slow the spread of this deadly virus. Troopers and liquor control officers will make every effort to achieve voluntary compliance by educating business owners and using discretion when appropriate. But our message is clear: COVID-19 is a serious health and public safety risk that requires an extraordinary response from law enforcement and the public. I urge everyone to stay home, stay calm, and stay safe.”
Your PAR leaders and staff continue to advocate on your behalf. While the safety of all Pennsylvanians is their top priority, they are also very in tune with your business issues and your need for clarity. We will be constantly discussing issues with the governor’s representatives, the legislature and key members of the real estate community to provide necessary guidance.
For the most up-to-date information, be sure to continue to visit PARealtors.org/coronavirus for answers to the most pressing questions.